Using an Information Capability Framework to provide an independent and external view of business intelligence capability

Dr Foster has provided an independent and external review of business intelligence capabilities to ensure information is being used effectively throughout the Northern Care Alliance.

The group, consisting of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, was facing a significant variation in the level of technology and process maturity across the two organisations, predominantly driven by different approaches to infrastructure, investment and implementation. Dr Foster’s Information Capability Framework (ICF) has helped to develop a programme of work which will help the Northern Care Alliance meet its aspirations for business intelligence and the Information and Business Intelligence team.

From benchmarking to assessing the business intelligence challenge

The creation of the Northern Care Alliance presented some unique challenges for the Information and Business Intelligence team. For example, different estates and service structures were having an impact on the capacity and demand for informatics delivery. At the same time, the trust recognised that the Information and Business Intelligence team had a critical role and that, going forward, business intelligence would play a key role in delivering local health economy goals.

Dr Foster had previously been involved with both trusts supporting mortality improvement initiatives, clinician engagement, pathway reviews and information system reviews. The trusts were also using Dr Foster tools to benchmark their performance and enable targeted improvement.

Emma Wright, Director of Information & Business Intelligence, Northern Care Alliance says: “Having brought in a single leadership structure across the informatics functions we needed to assess quickly what the entire capability was across the team. So, we tasked Dr Foster with an external, independent view of our capabilities and review of our business intelligence function.”

“Dr Foster’s independent view of capabilities within the information team was invaluable when it came to two organisations being brought together under the Northern Care Alliance. We were confident, from the previous support we’ve had from Dr Foster on analytical projects, that with the team’s skills and NHS experience, they would understand the role of our information team in providing business intelligence.”

Dr Foster interviewed over 30 people between May 2017 and August 2017. Interviews took place with the executive team, senior clinical and non-clinical leaders, decision makers, finance leads, business intelligence heads of department and divisional analytics leads.

Helping to meet key business intelligence objectives

Emma believes that working with Dr Foster has been an important step in helping to meet its business intelligence objectives. It wanted to ensure both trusts were using technology to easily access the data within the trust’s system and have modern platforms to share data across the two organisations. “We also wanted to ensure we had a skilled analytical workforce which could undertake analytical projects as well as engage the wider organisation in using information as part of its service delivery,” she says.

Clear actions translated into a road map

Emma says she was confident the review would be a good way to assess where the teams were in terms of their capabilities and assess how data was being used. “The structure of the framework has given us a clear set of actions which we have now translated into a road map – a programme of work which will enable us to meet our aspirations for the informatics team.”

Emma says: “In the end Dr Foster gave us what we wanted and we were able to implement a programme of work that has enabled us to address areas highlighted within the informatics team. As well as having an independent review of our capabilities, we have now appointed an independent programme lead to manage the programme of work and we are now six months into an 18-month programme.”

Wider engagement in business intelligence

One of the other benefits of the review is that the ICF has encouraged wider buy-in to business intelligence. The interviews were the starting point for this wider engagement. “The project has helped to raise the team’s profile and the wider engagement has been very positive and means we now have broad support from executive directors through to service managers.”

“It has been a good experience and we now have two organisations working under one umbrella with a plan for the future with a set of standard operating models which includes informatics – the ICF has become the standard operating model to assess any other organisations that join the Northern Care Alliance”.

“Dr Foster’s independent view of capabilities within the information team was invaluable when it came to two organisations being brought together under the Northern Care Alliance. We were confident, from the previous support we’ve had from Dr Foster on analytical projects, that with the team’s skills and NHS experience, they would understand the role of our information team in providing business intelligence.” Emma Wright, Director of Information & Business Intelligence, Northern Care Alliance